Workshop for the Marcuse Society Conference Critical Refusals
Participants: Gabriel Rockhill (Villanova University, Collège International de Philosophie, Machete Group), Adam Takacs (Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary), Annika Thiem (Villanova University).
Thursday, October 27th, 7-8:30 pm
4017 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3513
(To be followed by Interactive Symposium on Marcuse — details below)
This workshop, run in conjunction with the Machete Group’s new series at the Slought Foundation, will focus on one of the central themes of Herbert Marcuse’s work: the relationship between the institutions of the status quo and the acts of critical intervention that seek to overcome them through projects of social emancipation. More specifically, it will concentrate on the paradoxical situation of social criticism, which purports to transcend the status quo while being squarely situated within a social nexus. This problematic of immanent transcendence is further complicated by the necessity of not only breaking with the status quo but also establishing alternative institutions that aim at orienting society in a new direction. In short, the central question of this workshop will be: how can we transform society from within, and what role can philosophy play in this process?
Rather than a traditional academic panel, we would like to propose a workshop that explores the legacy of Marcuse’s socio-philosophical project and its relevancy to the contemporary conjuncture. We thereby seek to call into question traditional modes of knowledge production and transmission in the name of mobilizing theoretical tools from the past for pressing practical issues in the present. To this end, each participant in the workshop will explore the conundrum of social criticism through a concise presentation of a specific social institution in order to generate a larger, collective discussion. The respective titles of the individual presentations are: “Can History Have an Emancipatory Power? Reflections on the Possibility of a ‘Revolutionary’ Historical Science” (Takacs), “New Affects for a New Society: Beyond Repression vs. Liberation” (Thiem) and “Revolution or Recuperation? Overcoming False Polarizations in the Art World” (Rockhill). The methodological orientation of the entire workshop will be to draw on the work of Marcuse in order to discuss modes of critical intervention in the current conjuncture of status quo institutions.